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Scientists: Future Of Oldest Tree Species On Earth In Peril

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Researchers say a type of tree famous for having the longest lifespan on Earth is losing a race to the top of mountains as it seeks higher elevations across the Western United States.

Brian Smithers of the University of California, Davis says climate change is putting future generations of the bristlecone pine in peril.

Smithers said Wednesday that the tree's cousin, the limber pine, is leapfrogging up the mountainsides, taking root in the ground before the bristlecone.

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The bristlecone pine is the oldest individual organism, some living 5,000 years. The trees grow high in remote mountains of eastern California, Nevada, and Utah.

Smithers says climate change is driving the uphill migration, creating a competition for prime terrain.

The research was published Aug. 30 in the scientific journal, Global Change Biology.